Visit Bressay and Noss in the Shetland Islands

Separated from Lerwick by the Bressay Sound, Bressay is the fifth largest of the Shetland Islands, with a population of around 400 people, many of whom travel daily by ferry to work in Lerwick. Visitors to the island will find a number of interesting attractions to explore, and in the summer months can travel to the nature reserve island of Noss by passenger ferry from the east coast of Bressay, making the island an ideal destination for a day’s outing when visiting Shetland. Among the attractions on the island are Bressay Lighthouse, the Bressay Heritage Centre, and the 18th-century Gardie House and grounds.

Located above the car park for the Bressay Ferry, which travels between the island and Lerwick, the Bressay Heritage Centre features interesting exhibitions and information relating to the history and culture of the island. It is operated by the Bressay History Group which uses the centre as a gathering place for discussions on the history of this rugged region of Scotland. It also provides information about both Bressay and Noss islands and should be the first port of call for visitors to the island.

Located across the sound from Lerwick, on the west coast of Bressay Island is the 18th-century Gardie House. Protected as a ‘Category A’ listed building, the house is recognized as a superb example of a smaller country house that is unique in Shetland. The grounds are listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, in which gardens of historical and/or national artistic significance are recorded. The house was built in 1724 and the series of walled gardens were laid out at the same time. In 1799 Gardie House passed from the Henderson family, who had owned the property from the 17th century, to Elizabeth Nicholson and her husband Thomas Mouat of Garth, who had built Belmont House on the Shetland Island of Unst. Gardie House is currently privately owned.

The western part of Bressay is an important reserve for migratory birds, while in the far south there is an Arctic Skua colony, and the Loch of Grimisetter provides the ideal habitat for whooper swans and waders. Birding enthusiasts may also want to visit Noss where they are likely to see gannets, shags, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes.